NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Irish centerfielder Mike Vierling drove an RBI walkoff triple into the right center gap to lift Notre Dame past Duke, 3-2, in the series finale Saturday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (22-23, 10-14 ACC) scored two runs in the first but Duke (23-23, 9-15 ACC) kept the Irish off the board until the ninth. The Blue Devils plated runs in both the seventh and eighth, but went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded six the final three frames.
“Our guys competed and fought, even after [Brad] Bass pitched well early,” said head coach Chris Pollard. Incredibly disappointed for our kids. They deserved better than what happened today.”
Identical to the series' two previous contests, Notre Dame struck for an early lead. Nick Podkul and Kyle Fiala singles sandwiched the first out before a double steal scored the game's initial run. Ryan Lidge then bounced an RBI grounder, giving the Irish a 2-0 advantage.
Right-hander Ryan Day settled in following the first. He allowed just two singles the next six stanzas and retired 10 straight from the third to the seventh. Day tossed a career-high eight innings in the no decision, allowing the two runs on five hits while striking out five.
Duke was unable to solve Notre Dame's Brad Bass as the right-hander faced the minimum through six. A Jack Labosky fifth-inning single accounted for the Blue Devils' lone baserunner during that span, but a double play erased the threat.
“Both guys threw the ball great,” Pollard added. “Bass pitched a great ballgame for them. Ryan Day, terrific ballgame for us … competed his tail off. Both guys matched each other throughout the ballgame.”
After struggling to get the offense going against Bass, Herron started the seventh with his 11th double of the season. It appeared Bass might escape the threat, but a Labosky walk preceded a Smiciklas' RBI double inside the right field line.
Junior Max Miller bounced a leadoff eighth-inning single up the middle and eventually scored the tying run on Peter Zyla's pinch hit sacrifice fly. Bass committed a throwing error on Erikson Nichols' sacrifice bunt to allow Miller to reach third. Herron singled and Kone was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but reliever Sean Guenther (2-2) got the Irish off the field without further damage.
Sophomore Kennie Taylor drilled a one-out triple to start the ninth before Guenther worked out of the jam. In the bottom half, Labosky (2-3) walked Jake Johnson to lead things off. After a bunt fielder's choice, Vierling drove the 1-1 pitch to the right center gap to secure the series for the Irish.
Duke returns to action May 9, hosting Campbell at Jack Coombs Field at 6 p.m.